The decision to set Swarm: Metamorphosis in the Homeric Bronze Age was driven by the need to place Swarm’s shape-changing abilities in a context that made sense. Classical literature from Homer through Ovid is filled with examples of gods and mortals changing shape to become animals, trees, and streams, and it provided the setting I needed. As Circe tells Astrid, “It was an age when physical form more closely reflected desire.”
To support the novel’s more contemporary perspective, I worked to infuse Homer’s world with the realities of the Bronze Age as uncovered by archeological research. My Achaean warriors are not shining heroes, but real men who endured the hardships of war in a brutal, primitive time, and who killed their victims without remorse. Expressing this reality drew me to a female perspective on Homer’s war: the voices of Astrid, Circe, Hecamede, Myia (a character of my own creation), and other women who faced death and slavery emerged as essential points of view in my narrative.
Not wanting to abandon the heroic ethos entirely, I chose Nestor, Homer’s great horseman and master strategist, to be Astrid’s most reliable ally. I wanted to explore a character who was often treated as secondary to Odysseus, Achilles, and other familiar Homeric heroes, and to challenge the traditional portrayal of him as elderly and frail. Homer’s Nestor spent ten years sleeping in a tent, driving wooden chariots and terrified horses through raging battles, and holding his own in council with much younger counterparts—he was anything but frail. My Nestor is approaching sixty and, although unable to match his younger comrades in hand-to-hand combat, he remains vital, feared by his enemies, a leader in battle and in council, and tough as nails.
“I’ve grown tired of waiting in plain sight of the city that has frustrated us for so long. I’m sick of doing nothing but fighting the occasional band of Trojans. I’m sick of the excesses and cruelty of ignorant young men, of watching them sail off to raid some helpless village. I’m tired of prayers and ritual sacrifices that become nothing but drunken feasts . . . I’ve lived almost sixty years and have led three generations of men, some to victory and honor, others down to death. I long to spend the time that remains to me in some noble work, not this charade of a war.”Nestor telling Astrid of his desire to share her journey
If you are interested in reading Swarm: Metamorphosis and would like to be notified when it is published, please sign up for my mailing list.